Recently updated on: October 21, 2023
TL;DR - Minimalism is not simply about limiting your material possessions but a way to be more mindful about the things you bring into your life. You can implement minimalism on clothing, gadgets, fitness, and finances.
We live in a consumerist society. Everywhere we go, and wherever we look, we are constantly bombarded by advertisements about all the stuff that, apparently, we "need."
In 2016, I read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Though it was not really about minimalism as much as it was about decluttering, it gave some points about the importance of owning fewer things by only keeping the things that "spark joy."
I may not have touched my stuff one by one to see which of them should stay or go; still, I realized that it would be simpler if I owned fewer things.
When I moved to Mandaluyong in 2015 to look for a job, I only brought one
backpack and one duffel bag containing everything I needed.
But when I moved out of Metro Manila, I had to rent a moving van because I
gathered a lot of stuff, including household appliances, office clothes, shoes,
I accumulated so much stuff in my first three years and have not thrown anything. I still owned clothes that I wouldn't use anymore, shoes that would no longer be worn, and books that I would never read again.
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In 2018, I watched the Netflix documentary called "Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things." I realized that we really love holding on to things until we can no longer identify which are essential and which are not.
The quote, "We buy things we don't need, with the money we don't have,
to impress the people we don't even like," summarizes what the modern world has instilled in many of us.
Growing up, we always associate tangible things with success, such as a big
house, a nice car, and the latest gadgets.
However, I realized that this mindset is one of the fuels that drove many people to get trapped in the rat race, which I also subscribed to at one point.
What is Minimalism?
Joshua Becker of becomingminimalist.com defined minimalism as intentionally living with only the things we really need. Though there are many definitions of minimalism, this is the one that I can relate to.
Minimalism is a journey to more intentional living. It does not mean you should only own very few things or limit them to a certain number. Intentionality means that the things we own have a purpose in our lives.
My personal approach to simple living:
The first thing I did to live a simpler life was to return to my home province because the pace and cost of living in the countryside were much lower than in the city.
In my brief stay in Metro Manila, I recognized that it is not the place I would want to live in the long term. So, although my earning potential drastically decreased after changing industries, from IT to the academe, the opportunity to live simpler greatly compensates for it.
Below are some of the ways in which I incorporated simple living into my daily life:
1. Minimalism in Clothing
Have you noticed that Mark Zuckerburg usually wears grey T-shirts, Steve Jobs has his signature black turtleneck long sleeve, and Nas Daily with his black t-shirt with an xx% sign?
They did it not because they were cheap but because they wanted to simplify their lives and limit their decision-making throughout the day.
Though I don't have that kind of plain wardrobe, I usually wear only blue and black shades. I also have a system to arrange my clothes in my closet so I can wear my clothes following FIFO (first in, first out).
Doing this removes the decision time and conserves the mental energy needed to select which clothes to wear and reallocate them to more important things.
I also limited my shoes to three - one for work, one for casual events, and one for sports. I incorporated the JIT (just-in-time) management strategy on my personal belongings to improve efficiency and decrease waste.
Since most of these clothes are ready to wear, I can always buy a new one if they start to degrade.
2. Minimalism on Books
I love to read, and I love reading hard copies more than ebooks. When I first got hooked on reading, I almost got addicted to buying books, not reading them, or simply, tsundoku.
During that time, my single bookshelf started to get filled with many titles I bought from several bookstores and book fairs around Metro Manila.
But when I realized that most of these titles would just be book displays and would no longer be read, I decided to sell them or give them away.
It was a difficult decision since I wanted to have my personal library soon. But I believe owning so many books while not reading them is a disservice to their authors.
However, I kept my favorite books, which I still open every now and then. I also started lending them so that other people may discover their love for reading.
3. Minimalism on Gadgets
I wrote a longer post about gadgets and digital minimalism, which you can read here. In essence, we need to limit our use of devices because it can be detrimental to our mental health.
This includes cell phones, laptops, and tablets. We need to spend more time away from them and more time with the things that truly matter.
4. Minimalism in Fitness
Health and fitness should always be a priority. However, I don't want to spend so much money on something that has cheaper alternatives.
Instead of spending money on gym memberships, I employ bodyweight exercises such as the 7-minute exercise and full-body workouts like burpees and jumping jacks.
I also have the two-kilometer rule, wherein I avoid commuting to places within a two-kilometer radius. I am also fortunate to live near my work, which allowed me to go to school by bike or a 6-minute walk.
5. Minimalism on Finances
Simple living had the most significant impact on my finances. Though I have a lower salary than in my previous work, the province's low cost-of-living expenses make up for it.
Also, since I often cook, I can save more on food allowance instead of eating out. I also can control what comes into my food.
Another thing is because I maintain a certain fitness level, I don't get out of shape. This is also one reason why I have firm control over my wardrobe.
Since I don't have to adjust my clothes size, I don't need to buy new clothes, which is a considerable saving if you add them up.
Selling books to maintain a certain number of titles also funds other books that I will buy in the future.
Simple living and minimalism are conscious choices toward a more intentional life. We must understand that what we own should not define who we are and our success level.
Simple living allows us to improve our lives, be of service to others, and find other ways to spend our hard-earned money toward more meaningful expenses.
For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.Matthew 6:21 (NKJV)